25 August 2021, New Delhi: nurture.farm, an integrated technology-led solutions provider for sustainable agriculture globally and a part of the OpenAg™ network of UPL, today announced their program to end stubble burning practices in the states of Punjab and Haryana by replacing the matchstick with a spray service for the PUSA decomposer, a bioenzyme developed by the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI). It decomposes the stubble within 20-25 days after spraying and turns it into manure, further improving the soil quality. The company has signed up over 5,00,000 acres in this program and onboarded more than 25,000 farmers who will be availing this sustainable agriculture practice free of cost.
This comes as a great relief to farmers, citizens, and policymakers alike. Every year, the deliberate burning of 5.7 million acres of rice paddy stubble contributes to polluting the air with toxins, making it unbreathable for people in the nearby cities. The stubble burning impacts the soil quality while nutrients and microbes die and so does any other flora and fauna that comes in the fire’s way. However, the lack of any other viable choice pushes the farmers to burn the crops, as burning is cheaper, faster and clears the land in time for the next cropping cycle.
Commenting on the initiative, Jai Shroff, Global CEO, UPL Ltd., said, “We are excited about the initiative, and we believe this will go a long way in benefiting both the farmers and society-at-large. Our commitment to sustainability remains unparalleled. Through OpenAg™, UPL is creating a network that changes the way a whole industry thinks and works and will help make the agricultural process more sustainable.”
Commenting on the initiative, Dhruv Sawhney, COO and Business Head, nurture.farm said: “75% of Indian farmers are owners of land which span a hectare or less. For them, time and resources are limited, and so they are risk-averse to try new things. They are aware of the negative implications of crop burning, but lack of access to the latest technology and farm mechanisation pushes them to burn the crop. Any delay in handling leftover stubble directly affects their next cropping cycle, which has a domino effect on their yield and ultimately their income.”
“This is where nurture.farm steps in and acts as the facilitator of PUSA, a bio-decomposer developed by IARI. Partnering with IIM Rohtak, we have developed an entire ecosystem where the farmers can register for the service via our nurture.farm app and avail our large spraying machines to decompose their stubble. Offering the service free of cost incentivises the farmers to adopt practices that ensure sustainable outcomes, which is the core of all our services at nurture.farm. We are excited about this initiative because this will have a direct benefit on the farm’s sustainability as well as the environment and public health,” he further added.
The protocol verification and oversight of the project have been developed in collaboration with IIM-Rohtak. Prof. Dheeraj Sharma, Director, IIM Rohtak said:
“We are glad to be a part of this great initiative by nurture.farm where we can create a direct impact by piloting a sustainable agricultural model at this unprecedented scale and proportion. Stubble burning is a major cause of environmental and economic concern. By devising a framework to produce, procure, and make the PUSA spray available at the grassroots level, we are confident about putting an end to this unhealthy practice. We are excited to embark on this journey of sustainability and to track its impact on the environment, health, and the farm.”
The highlight of the initiative is that it ensures a win-win for all the stakeholders involved. For farmers, stubble decomposition leads to increased organic carbon and soil health and a significant cost reduction in fertilisers for the next cropping cycle. Being a sustainable agriculture practice, the initiative also ensures a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases and a reduction in toxins and soot that gets released into the air. When practised for a while, it considerably increases the soil’s nutrient health and microbial activity, ensuring better yield at reduced input costs for the farmers and organic produce for the consumers. nurture.farm plans to scale up the operations to end stubble burning in the states of Punjab and Haryana in the next three years.